Want a laugh? Wimmin are just the ticket

This year's Edinburgh festival is a good place to start

Share
Related Topics

There are 227 comedy shows featuring women at Edinburgh this year – a quarter of all the shows. You can spin that number either way. You can see it as a record number of women comedians. Yay! Wimmin! Or you can be surprised that, 18 years after Jenny Eclair first won the Perrier Award, only one in four comedy performers is a wimminly one. Boo! Inequality!

For a few years, the number of women performing stand-up at the Fringe has risen steadily. The first show to sell out this year? A woman's: Sarah Millican. Most talked-about newcomer? A woman: Aisling Bea became the first in 20 years to win the coveted So You Think You're Funny? award at Edinburgh's Gilded Balloon last year. Her 2013 show C'est La Bea is on every "hottest ticket" list.

It's not as if women are not given enough prominence. This year's must-sees have been bigged up everywhere: Bridget Christie, Tig Notaro, Caroline Rhea, Lucy Porter, Rachel Parris, Sara Pascoe, Claudia O'Doherty, Gemma Whelan, Abi Roberts, Harriet Kemsley, Nat Luurtsema, Mary Bourke, Ria Lina.

But while the numbers are so slow to even out, there's still a tendency to talk about "wimmin and comedy" rather than focusing on what audiences are interested in: "Who is going to make me laugh?" The upward trend is encouraging. (Hooray for the Fringe!) But its slowness, that is depressing. (Down with women being seen as a novelty act because they're supposedly some kind of minority!)

Why, still, are there fewer women? This is the question no one can really answer. It's the flipside of "Why are there so few male primary school teachers?" We don't like to believe we live in a world of stereotypes. But we do.

Of course, the stand-up circuit, where I am toiling as a newbie, has its share of pervs and bullies. While most women comics will have a favourite horror story about unwanted approaches or nasty heckles, this stuff is no serious barrier to getting through the ranks.

There is a persistent view that part of the answer must be that "women are not as funny as men". People otherwise perfectly sensible seem happy to hold this belief, while surrounded by mothers, sisters, demented female friends, quipping aunts and cuttingly funny grandmothers who make them laugh in their everyday lives. (OK, not always intentionally.)

"But men are better at stand-up," say the strangely persistent. Maybe it seems that way. But only because of the numbers bias, and comedy being intensely personal. Over 800 men to chose from but only 227 women? Of course your best fit is more likely to be a man.

No favourite female comic? You just haven't found the right woman yet. Don't lose heart. This year's Edinburgh is the place to start.

Viv Groskop is performing the one-woman show of her book 'I Laughed, I Cried: How One Woman Took On Stand-Up and (Almost) Ruined Her Life' on 18 and 19 August, 10.40pm, Le Monde. For tickets go to edfringe.com

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UX Consultant

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...

Recruitment Genius: Part-time Editor

£8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Executive

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An exceptional opportunity has arisen for a pa...

Recruitment Genius: Kitchen and Bathroom Installers

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of designer kitch...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The economics of the stock market is simple really: buy and hold

Ben Chu
Jeb Bush's campaign will emphasise both his conservative record as a former governor of Florida and his commitment to building a more inclusive Republican Party  

American democracy is up for sale, and it’s a warning to us all

Shirley Williams
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border